5 Beautiful Gardens to Explore in Williamsburg

The perfect spring day for me is spent outdoors, enjoying the sunshine and lovely weather, exploring beautiful gardens. I recently spent the day touring five local gardens in the area, and each one was magical in its own way. I absolutely loved spending time wandering, learning about colonial life and native plant species.    

1. The Old Custom House Gardens

The Old Custom House, located in Yorktown, was built in 1720 and purchased by the Comte de Grasse Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1924. Behind the house is the Colonial Herb Garden, planted in 1976 by the Children of the American Revolution. Included in the garden are boxwoods, anise, mint, thyme, bee balm, and the famous Yorktown Onion. The Yorktown Onion was introduced to America during the Revolutionary War from the French and can only be found in Yorktown, where it grows wild. The property is open to the public from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Sundays from June until October. Private tours are also available by contacting the Daughters of the American Revolution. 


2. American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

The outdoor gardens and farm at the American Revolution Museum will give you a sense of life for an 18th century farming family. There are apple orchards and fields for growing large crops, including corn, potatoes, tobacco, and cotton. There are also two herb and vegetable gardens, one for the family and one for the enslaved people. Historical interpreters are located throughout the farm to give tours of the garden, demonstrate the process of dying fabrics, and processing raw flax. It was fascinating to learn about different ways that herbs, such as spearmint, clary sage, costmary, comfrey, and horehound, were used during colonial times. The enslaved people had their own garden where they planted vegetables native to their homeland, including tomatoes, turnips, mustard greens, and corn salad.


3. Adams Garden at William & Mary

The Adams Garden is a small oasis tucked away at the intersection of Richmond Rd and N. Boundary St, opposite College Corner. If you aren’t looking closely, you could easily miss it or walk right by without a glance. Once you enter the garden, there are winding pathways and benches scattered throughout, making for the perfect place to relish a peaceful moment among the beautiful flowers and plants. The Adams Garden was originally a bulb and azalea garden but now holds a plethora of tropical and subtropical plant and flower species, as well as many unusual trees. You could wander through the garden for hours, admiring the gorgeous and interesting plant varieties.


4. Colonial Williamsburg Arboretum & Gardens

After purchasing tickets at the Arts Museums of Colonial Williamsburg visitor services desk, walk a few short blocks to the Governor’s Palace. There are more than 30 gardens on the grounds of the Palace, consisting of various flowers and 18th century tree and shrub varieties. The Arboretum, the only Level II certified arboretum in Virginia, spreads across more than 300 acres in the historic Colonial Williamsburg area. While taking a self-guided tour, scan the QR codes on your smartphone and read about each flower and tree species. The gardens are absolutely breathtaking, especially in the spring.


5. Williamsburg Botanical Garden at Freedom Park 

Located in Freedom Park, the Williamsburg Botanical Garden is a two-acre ellipse with an herb garden, butterfly garden, native garden, wetland sites, native meadow, pine woodlands, and native grasses. There’s a self-guided map at the front of the garden and QR codes to scan throughout. There’s a pavilion in the middle with benches and picnic tables, providing the perfect spot to relax or enjoy lunch.


About Leah:

Leah Bandoni is a lifestyle and travel blogger based in Richmond, Virginia. Learn more about Leah on her site and follow her on Instagram.

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